As a mother, I am often confronted with two children vehemently convinced that one’s needs are clashing with the other’s. They usually make a pretty compelling argument. Isabella needs to be left alone; Andre needs her to play with him…RIGHT NOW.
There have been times where I am almost convinced and have come this close to believing that one child’s interest really is pitted against the other’s in a painful-to-watch zero-sum game. And yet, I cling to the belief that there is always a solution that allows everyone feel good; and I trust us all to find it.
I am not talking about compromise where one person concedes something they never wanted to concede just to keep the peace. Convincing Isabella to come out of her room to play with Andre, against her will, would cause more problems than the original shouting match; I assure you.
I am talking about digging deep, finding our true needs and working together with love to see how we can all feel good about the solution. And that solution may look much different than we ever anticipated; it may even surprise us; it certainly takes a bit of time to find….but it is a solution that always works, because we all create it and own it and feel good about it.
Those two words, feel good, are the key. We threw “fair” solutions out the window years ago. There is nothing inherently “fair” about being almost 5 years old when your sister is almost 8. She’s tall enough to go on all of the fun rides, old enough to go to overnight circus camp…NO FAIR!
On the flip side, there is always the chance that some woman at the Boardwalk may give Andre a really cool toy for no apparent reason (being little and cute has some advantages). Clearly, NO FAIR!
So how do we reach these “feel good solutions”? The most important thing we do is look past the surface need and find the deep one. Does Andre “need” to play with Isabella right now, or does he just need to know that she still loves him and values him and enjoys playing with him? Once he feels that, does he even need her presence…or maybe someone else could be play? How about you, Mommy? Will you play Sleeping Queens with Andre?
And does Isabella “need” to be alone or does she just need to feel as if she has some control over what she does? She might even decide that she, too, would like to play Sleeping Queens.
And what about Mommy? Do you really need to finish cleaning (or cooking or writing or reading or facebook-ing or whatever it is you are busily doing) right now or would it feel good to play a card game with your delightful kids? Sleeping Queens, it is! Mission accomplished…a solution that makes everyone feel good! I knew we could do it!
Ruthie Yarme is a homeschooling mom, living in Santa Cruz, CA. She delights in walking among the towering Redwoods; watching her dog, Ginger, romp along the Pacific; listening to her husband play music of all styles; and pretty much doing anything with her two amazing gurus, Isabella and Andre.
You can find Ruthie’s essays here every Thursday. She would love to hear your thoughts on parenting, partnering and joyful living. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org